Archive | October, 2012

Chitwan

28 Oct

After Pokhara, we headed to Chitwan National Park – one of the most popular (non-trekking) tourist destinations in Nepal.

The bus from Pokhara was an interesting one as it was te eighth day of Dahsain festival, which is the day that buffalos or goats are sacrificed. We witnessed every step of the sacrifice from the window on the bus along the side of the road.

The bus was also interesting in a very horrible way as my DSLR camera and $100 were stolen. I am partially to blame as I left it on the bus with my bag, which is dumb, but it was a tourist bus and I left it for less than 5 minutes, but alas, someone awful stole it. I hope they break their fingers and cannot use it, and that karma gets them with a serious vengeance.

That obviously put a big damper on the rest of our trip, so when we arrived in Chitwan I was quite upset. But I held it together and enjoyed myself (though silently resenting people around me who had amazing cameras to photograph the animals with).

We were joined at the hotel by 5 friends/colleagues of mine which made the trip much more enjoyable. We stayed at a high-end resort called Royal Park Hotel and all the activities were included as well as food.

The first evening our activity was an ox-ride through town, followed by a cultural show of Tahru people dancing with sticks. At the end of the show we were invited to join in the dancing so one of my colleagues, Nafisa, and I joined in the circle.

The following day we went on a canoe trip to watch birds around the river, then headed to the elephant breeding centre, the museum on elephants, then the best part of the trip – bathed with the elephants, followed by free time in which we shopped, and then an elephant ride through the jungle.

View during the canoe ride

Dan and I getting ‘bathed’ by the elephant…

Second bath with two of the girls

Post-bath

Heading out on the elephant for a ride through the jungle

Elephants were given tikkas for Dashain


That night we heard rumors that there was a rhino that we could see in the jungle, so we got one of the guides to take us. We saw two together, cooling off under the water. We weren’t able to see their faces, though, and our disappointment was apparent to the guide. He offered to take us in the morning to look again.

Two rhinos cooling off in the river

The next morning, tagging along with a group of Dutch tourists going bird watching, we saw a rhino in the wild, moving about very slowly and eating.

Rhino eating in the wild. Picture taken by Nafisa.

Aside from getting my camera stolen, the trip was incredibly awesome, nearly perfect, I’d say.

xxx

Ayesha

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Pokhara

28 Oct

Last weekend, Dan and I headed to Pokhara. The bus took about 7 hours and wasn’t bad other than not having a toilet on board.

We arrived in Pokhara by 3 pm or so and found our lodge with only a little difficulty. There was a girl traveling solo on our bus who we befriended and she ended up staying in the same lodge as us.

Before night fall, we wanted to go on a canoe ride, so we did that at about 4 pm and got caught in the very first rain fall since monsoon season ended a month ago. The timing was hilariously sucky, but I didn’t mind, it was actually quite nice.

Pokhara Fewa Lake

Our new friend Jo joined us for dinner at a restaurant recommended by The Lonely Planet and we all had steak and beer. Poor Dan was up all night sick because of it, though.

The next day we hung around Lakeside in Pokhara, rented rickety, unsturdy bicycles at $1 each for an hour, hung by the lake reading and drinking tea and went for another boat ride, this time a paddle boat hoping it would require less work (it did).

Fewa Lake, Pokhara

We called it a night super early because we were going to get up and watch the sunrise on top of a mountain called Sarangkot. So, we got up at 4 am and caught a cab to the mountain and walked about 30-45 minutes up to the top. There, for the first time, I saw the Himalayas and it was at dawn. Gorgeous site.

 

Dan overlooking the Himalayas from Sarangkot at dawn

We spent the remainder of the day hanging around Lakeside, again reading and sipping tea and tried out an authentic, super-cheap Nepali restaurant where we were served unlimited daal bhat.

Pokhara was gorgeous and serene, but packed to the brim with tourists.

We didn’t go paragliding or zip-lining, which are two of the main attractions there because it was so expensive. But I may go when I next visit Pokhara.

xxx

Ayesha

Dashain

18 Oct

Happy Dashain 2069!!

This is the big festival in Nepal where everything closes for 10 days, so I got my twin brother to visit me. It happens to also be peak tourist season.

Daniel arrived on Sunday and has already been to most placs around Kathmandu. Heck he has seen more than I have!

Having him here has been awesome and for the most part we’ve gotten along, with the exception of him constantly telling me how much he hates my dyed hair and fake nails. But he’s had 3 days now to get used to them. Tuesday was the first day of the festival so I had the day off and we went to the 3 main temples around KTM: Bouddha, Pashupathi and Swambu.

Me and Dan at Bouddha!

I hadn’t yet visited Swayambu, also referred to as the monkey temple, so it was really neat to see. We got there at sunset, too, which provided for a really great, romantic view.

Swambunath at sunset

Dan’s has also served as a good distraction for me as Zak told me he’s officially not visiting and has moved on. I am happy for him in one sense as he deserves to be happy, but there’s a part of me that is honestly hurt that he moved on so fast when I’m still listening to sad music and wishing I’d hear from him. It makes me wonder if he’s found someone else. It’s the only explanation…

So, I am now looking at my solo-travel options while here.

Tomorrow, Dan and I are headed to Pokhara for 3 days then to Chitwan National Park, which is a huge tourist destination where we will ride elephants!! I can’t wait!

Today at work for Dashain, we had a Momo making party. They are so hard to make but we ate so, so many. I am still not fed up of them…Momos are basically dumplings but are extremely popular and common in Nepali and Tibetan cuisine. They can be steamed or fried and have veggies or meat inside.

momos

Yum!

xxx

Ayesha

Birthday Weekend

8 Oct

This weekend was quite nice.

Friday the plan was to stay in and have an early night so I would be awake and pumped for the Astrologer on Saturday. But with no electricity, and no laptop (update – my laptop is completely fried I need a new one, it sucks) I got bored and we decided to go to the bar.

It wasn’t such an exciting night but I didn’t want a very exciting night. I woke up Saturday at 7 to catch a cab to New Sadle’s CEO’s house where the Astrologer would be meeting us at 8.

My Astrology chart. Written in Sanskrit.

Here are some  of the things he told me:

  • I was born in the year 2044
  • My Hindu name is Jhuma
  • I should start my own business within the next couple of years, preferably on my own but if I have a partner I should be sure it’s someone who does not like the colour black
  • I shouldn’t start anything new on Fridays
  • If I dream of a snake that means I shouldn’t start anything new
  • I am hard headed and when I love people I really love them but when I don’t like them I don’t want anything to do with them (well, duh)
  • I should be gentler with people because they don’t understand my need to be right all the time
  • I should avoid Leos because we both have very strong personalities
  • I should have married at 18 but since I didn’t, I should marry at 27
  • I need to be with a man from east or west of Toronto (anywhere in the world) not South or North
  • I like music but am not good at it
  • I will have 2 kids – first a boy, then a girl
  • I will travel a lot in my life but should take it easy between the ages of 33-36
  • I like to watch others dance and not dance myself (That is extremely false, I throw myself dance parties all the time)
  • I have health problems in  my chest (which is true)
  • I was born with the love of a mother but not a father (also true)

It was interesting but as I needed constant translation, it took a while and I didn’t get a lot of answers or specifics I need. I will be praying to Shiva on Mondays or Saturdays for my future marriage.

I asked which stone to wear and he recommended the yellow one, in Nepali it’s called Pushpuraj and it’s to strengthen my weaknesses due to the weakness of my Jupitar star.

So, that was the Astrologer. I felt really into it while I was with him but now I’m feeling more and more jipped.

Afterwards I visited a colleague who lived nearby and she taught me to cook some curries and daal bhat, fed me and taught me a bit about Newari culture. Then, I went to Thamel and got my nails did 🙂

For my Birthday on Sunday, I woke up feeling really content. I must first state how rare this is as birthdays are ususally quite hard for me. I just felt happy that I am turning 25 in Kathmandu not in Toronto doing the same old, same old. On the one hand, when I’m in Toronto I get phone calls and taken out to dinner, but here I only get Facebook posts even from family, but it’s ok. I’m living in Nepal, where I have dreamt of being for years, working with awesome people.

I went to the Farmer’s Market with Tara where we had waffles and yogurt and fruit and coffee then I went home, Skyped with both bros, made a collage, took a nap and then all the other volunteers came over to chat, drink wine then eventually head to dinner at a restaurant in Jamsikhel called Lhaksa’s Chulo. It was so nice and there were so many of us, and it felt really nice to be out celebrating my birthday. I never really do that in Canada and it was so nice being surrounded by all these lovely, interesting people.

Then we had cake and the candle said ‘5’ on it which made me laugh so hard. How cute.

It was a good birthday and now I am trying to be a mature 25 year old woman.

Wish me luck 😉

xxx

Ayesha

Karma

5 Oct

Despite being clumsy, for the most part I try to take decent care of my laptop. I don’t download stuff, I don’t do illegal things…all I really do is surf the web and edit photos on it and work, listen to music and watch DVDs.

Yet, yesterday after only 13 months, it completely went berserk and isn’t working now.

There is no reason for this to have happened. So, I’m wondering, is it karma? Is this Vishnu or Shiva or Ganesh’s way to tell me that yes indeed I screwed up and this is how I will repay the universe, by sufferring?

My computer is not working, my phone is cracked and losing its sensitivity (it’s a touch screen) and the model never came to Nepal so getting it fixed would require sending it abroad, costing about half of what I paid for the phone itself.

What does it all mean? Should I toss out all my broken or nearly broken electronics and move to a mountain somewhere to meditate, as it seems the universe is telling me I don’t do well with electronics, at least not these days. Or is it just a really bad coincidence?

The good news is that Tara and I are now talking. Things aren’t perfect, but we’re back to being friends and roommates, which is good because I missed her so, so much. She really is a fabulous friend and roommate. I need to remember to buy her flowers…

Tomorrow I have an appointment with an Astrologist. Astrologists are really big in Hindu culture, at least in Nepal. Most Nepalis visit them at least once a year near the time of their birthday, as well as during the year when they need to seek advice. The Astrologist will look at their birth chart (which I need to get made) and consult the stars and if something bad is going to happen, advise them as to which stones to wear and on which finger, which god to pray to, which days and when to fast to avoid the trouble.

I am an atheist. I don’t believe that the location of the stars when I was born has anything to do with my fate, however, people really seem to believe in this stuff, so I thought, why not? Who knows? Maybe if he gives me a really accurate description of my past, I’ll believe what he tells me about the future. It should be interesting. Since the Astrologer only speaks Nepali, the CEO of one of FTG’s partners is going to translate. It is his Astrologer, and I will be going to his house at 8am tomorrow morning to meet with him and the Astrolger and he will translate. Who knows, maybe this time next week I’ll be fasting on Tuesdays and praying to lord Ganesh.

xxx

Ayesha